A visit with an evolutionary psych class

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Last week I spoke at an evolutionary psychology class at a local university. I had spoken there two years ago, and that had been successful enough that I was invited back to talk about various issues involved with anti-evolutionism.

There were about 45 students in the class, mostly upperclass psych majors, and they were quite attentive and engaged: we had lots of good discussion and lots of insightful questions.

Afterwards, the students were asked to reply on their class discussion board to the question, “What was the most significant issue for you” that came up during my presentation. The three most frequent issues mentioned were:

1. The fact that there are different varieties of creationists, and that while the IDists are the public face of the movement, the vast majority of creationists are young-earth creationists.

2. The political nature of the anti-evolution movement, and the fact that it is really an anti-science “worldview war” being waged to “overthrow materialism.” We carefully reviewed some key parts of the Wedge to get the big picture described in the IDists’ own words. (More on this later in this post.)

3. The subject of theistic evolutionists, and the fact that the ID movement denounces this subset of their fellow Christians as sellouts to materialism.

Let me first say a few words about 1. and 3. above, then spend some time showing what I did with 2. Let me make it clear that the following are very broad summary statements about what they, the students, got from the presentation. I’m sure many of them knew about some aspects of the situation before, to varying degrees, but it seems like having a whole class on the subject helped raise their awareness of many issues.

1. The nature of the anti-evolutionists

The class knew that anti-evolutionism is driven by its perceived conflict with religion, but they hadn’t really thought about how pervasively anti-science YECism is. They were shocked to hear how large a percent of adults in the United States are YEC’s. And most importantly, they didn’t know how much anti-evolutionism is tied to the creationist idea that evolution is an atheist belief that is responsible for all of societies shortcoming. I showed them one of the typical “tree of evil” pictures: evolution is the trunk being hacked down by the “creation science message,” and the branches of the tree are abortion, homosexuality, genocide, eugenics, radical feminism and a whole host of other evils.

I also explained the “big tent” strategy, whereby the IDists have tried to become the public spokepersons for all the anti-evolutionists as part of their strategy to look like they are about science and not religion. I pointed out that this strategy is not working very well these days, partly because the IDists can’t disguise the religious nature of their agenda and partly because the YEC have become impatient with the IDists’ failures and want to quit having their (the YEC’s) overtly religious agenda take a back seat.

2. Theistic evolution

The students were quite interested to hear about Christians who accept science, about the general theological ways in which they reconcile science with their religious views, and most of all, about how the ID movement denounces theistic evolutionists. Several of the religious students in the classes said they appreciated my explanation of this, as they struggled some with this conflict within themselves, and they were glad to hear that they were in good company accepting their religion and science both. I recommended Keith Miller’s book “Perspectives on an Evolving Creation” to them.

We also had a very interesting discussion on the nature of religious belief, and about ways to understand and live with religious diversity.

The fact that the IDists denounce theistic evolution helped make it clear to the students that the ID movement (including its fellow travellers under the big tent) are trying to impose a specific religious view under the guise of science, and that the ID Wedge strategy claiming that science is fundamentally atheist is both wrong and unfair to millions of theistic supporters of science.

3. The Wedge document

One of the topics for the first couple of weeks of the class had been the nature of science, and the place of evolution (and thus evolutionary psychology) within science. The students had been assigned a paper (due the week after my visit) analyzing and reacting to the Alabama textbook disclaimer, as that disclaimer gets quite a bit wrong about all those issues. I then suggested that the students read in advance a portion of the Wedge document so that we could dissect the Wedge document a bit as an analog of what they might do with the Alabama disclaimer (and as Ken Miller did with the disclaimer, although I didn’t point that out to them.)

So here is a text recreation (not verbatim at all) of that exercise. All quotes are from the Wedge document. Many of us are familiar with the Wedge, but almost all of the students were not. This exercise had a big impact on the students - reading in the IDists own words what the IDists see as the main issues.

So as you read, try pretending that you are reading this for the first time. Also, remember that this was written over ten years ago - before Kansas, before Dover - and yet the whole scenario is just as relevant now as it was when it was written.

From the Wedge:

The proposition that human beings are created in the image of God is one of the bedrock principles on which Western civilization was built.

The main issues are raised immediately. A particular religious view of the nature of human beings - that we were created in the image of God - is declared central to our civilization. As I explained above, many people who accept science would also accept this sentence. The controversy, we will find out, is in the details: how were we created and in what ways are we made in the image of God.

(Note well here, and I made this clear to the students: I am not espousing any particular religious view, or advocating religious views over non-religious views. I am, however, trying to distinguish for the students the views of the IDists from other Christians and all the other people who aren’t trying to wedge us into this God vs. science dichotomy.)

Yet a little over a century ago, this cardinal idea came under wholesale attack by intellectuals drawing on the discoveries of modern science.

Again, one of the the main issues is starkly drawn: The IDists see modern science as the enemy. Why is this?

Debunking the traditional conceptions of both God and man, thinkers such as Charles Darwin, Karl Marx, and Sigmund Freud portrayed humans not as moral and spiritual beings, but as animals or machines who inhabited a universe ruled by purely impersonal forces and whose behavior and very thoughts were dictated by the unbending forces of biology, chemistry, and environment.

Well, that’s why - modern science sees human beings as merely biological machines with no free will and no inherent moral or spiritual nature. Science, as one of Pat’s students had worried aloud about the previous week, strips human beings of their humanity.

Note also that the concerns go beyond mere physical biology - they also are about the nature of our society, government and politics, about our minds and behavior. Even though evolution is ostensibly the key issue, we are currently seeing many expressions of the Wedge mentality in culture and politics as the fundamentalist right wages their “worldview war, “ and we are increasingly seeing non-scientific encroachments upon psychology.

But so what? Has this materialist view that they decry had any significant impact?

Well yes it has, they believe:

This materialistic conception of reality eventually infected virtually every area of our culture, from politics and economics to literature and art. … The cultural consequences of this triumph of materialism were devastating.

In particular, materialism has had three major consequences. First,

Materialists denied the existence of objective moral standards, claiming that environment dictates our behavior and beliefs. Such moral relativism was uncritically adopted by much of the social sciences, and it still undergirds much of modern economics, political science, psychology and sociology.

First, note again that this is about much more than science - it has about all of culture.

And this first issue is really the most important one to them: the anti-evolutionists believe that if one does not believe in objective God-given moral standards and an “image of God” moral nature for human beings, one is started on the very slippery slope to not only moral relativism but to the bottom of the slope: moral nihilism, might makes right, survival of the fittest, and so on. This is of course a common theme in modern politics that mirrors this concern from the Wedge: one side is the Moral Majority, the holder of family values, and so on, and everyone else somehow lacks the ability to be moral and have values.

Issue #2:

Materialists also undermined personal responsibility by asserting that human thoughts and behaviors are dictated by our biology and environment. The results can be seen in modern approaches to criminal justice, product liability, and welfare. In the materialist scheme of things, everyone is a victim and no one can be held accountable for his or her actions.

Same song - different verse. Accepting what modern science tells about human beings makes one incapable of believing that oneself or others can be held responsible for their actions - according to the Wedge and the IDists.

Issue #3

Finally, materialism spawned a virulent strain of utopianism. Thinking they could engineer the perfect society through the application of scientific knowledge, materialist reformers advocated coercive government programs that falsely promised to create heaven on earth.

Communism and socialism - the political consequences of materialism. Our democratic institutions, they believe, are founded on their “image of God” notions, and those that deny that nature are the natural supporters of communism and the enemies of democracy.

OK, so that’s the problem. What do the IDists plan to do about the problem?

Discovery Institute’s Center for the Renewal of Science and Culture seeks nothing less than the overthrow of materialism and its cultural legacies.

Well, that’s clear. But how will they do that?

Bringing together leading scholars from the natural sciences and those from the humanities and social sciences, the Center explores how new developments in biology, physics and cognitive science raise serious doubts about scientific materialism and have re-opened the case for a broadly theistic understanding of nature.

So here we see the precursor of what’s going on right now:

1. a theistic interpretation of biology - Intelligent Design creationism

2. physics - the strong anthropic arguments for design aimed at the Big Bang and the fine-tuning of the universe, as well as even the fine-tuning of our planet as described in the Privileged Planet, and

3. psychology - for example, O’Leary’s “Spiritual Brain” or the thoughts (?) of Egnor.

The goal is to insist that scientific explanations for biology, cosmology and psychology are not only incomplete if they don’t include God, but that in fact not including God in these explanations is equivalent to denying that God exists: we can have either a materialistic science (with its devastating consequences) or we can have a theistic science.

And last, how do they plan on accomplishing their goal; what’s their plan?

FIVE YEAR STRATEGIC PLAN SUMMARY

However, we are convinced that in order to defeat materialism, we must cut it off at its source. That source is scientific materialism. This is precisely our strategy. If we view the predominant materialistic science as a giant tree, our strategy is intended to function as a “wedge” that, while relatively small, can split the trunk when applied at its weakest points. … We are broadening the wedge with a positive scientific alternative to materialistic scientific theories, which has come to be called the theory of intelligent design (ID). Design theory promises to reverse the stifling dominance of the materialist worldview, and to replace it with a science consonant with Christian and theistic convictions.

They are fighting a “worldview war” - materialism vs. theism - and the core place to attack is the nature of science. The Kansas Science standards say that “science is the human activity of seeking natural explanations for what we observe in the world around us.” This definition of science is, in their view, precisely the problem. To them, looking for natural explanations of what we observe in the world around us via science is the same as saying that natural explanations are the only type of legitimate or important explanations there are, and that everything there is can be investigated through science. Neither of these things is true.

At this point I mentioned that in another article from approximately the same time, Philip Johnson, in an article on the Wedge in Touchstone magazine, pointed out that within science, evolution is the most susceptible topic. Evolution is the small split in the log that the Wedge is to be inserted into, a main reason being, as we have already seen, that there is a vast body of young-earth creationists waiting to support anything that attacks evolution.

So there we have it: the Wedge document lays out the problem, the goal, and he plan. This is what the Intelligent Design movement is all about.

Last point: the quoted section ends with “and to replace it with a science consonant with Christian and theistic convictions.”

But as we have seen, this is not true. The views of the IDists are not consonant with the Christian and theistic convictions of millions of people, as I then went on to discuss. The short story is that the ID version of Christianity believes that God has created various aspects of life (they are not all in agreement which ones) through interventions in the natural world - special creations which override what they see as the limitations of natural processes. The IDists are special creationists, along with the YEC’s and OEC’s, and millions of Christians and other theists are not creationists in this same sense.

I concluded by stating:

“The Intelligent Design movement seeks to elevate one theological position (God intervenes in evolution in empirically detectable ways,) over another theological position (God acts continuously through natural processes in ways that are beyond our scientific scrutiny,) as well as over many other religious and non-religious perspectives.

It desires to insert this perspective into science, and thence into all aspects of society. People who care about science, education, politics and culture, religion, and the law should all be concerned about this, I think.”

————————————————————————-

Going through the Wedge document section by section like this was an effective exercise for these students, I think. The Wedge document is well-written, succinct, and gets all the big ideas on the table. Analyzing it, just as they were also analyzing the Alabama disclaimer, has given them a couple of clear pictures into the perspectives of the anti-evolutionists in our country.

So I was glad to have the opportunity to have this experience with this class. The students are now done with this part of the class and digging into the hard part of the course. I wish them all good luck. A good education should be unsettling, and I am sure all of them will have a broader and deeper perspective on human nature and our scientific attempts to understand it when they are done with their course.

121 Comments

Not only was this a great post that I will be bookmarking to serve as the subject of later blog posts, but those students were lucky to have you as a speaker. It is all too rare, even at the college level, that this sort of critical information reaches students. The idea that a bunch of religious fanatics are at war with science in contemporary America is something of which every educated person must be aware. Bravo!

It’s maddening that, despite the endless words given to the “creation-evolution debate” in the popular press, those 3 points (plus a few more of my favorites) are such well-kept secrets that even most university students don’t know it until a visiting lecturer alerts them. When you say “most creationists are YECs” I hope you emphasized that it’s the rank-and-file that are such, and not necessarily the activists, who seem to just be knowingly “telling fairy tales.”

We should all follow the example set by Jack and try to get this message across to as many people as possible.

To me, it seems that there are three possible outcomes to the culture wars:

One - a religiously motivated creationist majority will take control of our democracy and dispense with the protections provided by the consitiution. If that happens then the United States will fall to the level of a third-world nation with education, science, medicine and agriculture suffering even more than they presently do.

Two - the constitutioon will continue to protect the minority from the tyranny of the majority. In that case it will be possible for a renewed emphasis on education and science which will result in great strides in medicine and agriculture. Or we could just keep ignoring our problems and trying to placate the people who stand in opposition to academic freedom.

Three - the constitution will theoretically continue to protect our freedoms, but the country will become polarized into two differnt factions. The creationists will give up on trying to destroy materialism and simply reject it for themselves. They will develop their own private school system, complete with grade schools, high schools and universities, while still taking advantage of the technology provided by mainstream science. The only question is, will these institutions be officially recognized? If they are, then we could have a whole lot of unprepared doctors and nurses praying for a cure for cancer. If they are not, then there will be a lot of screaming and yelling about discrimination when academic standards are upheld.

If you don’t believe that scenario number three is plausible in this country, take a look at the lawsuit filed against the University of California, then take a look at what is in the so-called textbook in question.

The “wedge” document and the continuity of arguments from “creation science” to new outward labels for antievolution will continue to be relevant in future courtroom encounters. And I have no doubt that there will be new courtroom encounters. The early publicity for the FTE textbook project proclaimed that it would obviate the arguments made by the plaintiffs in the McLean case, yet “Of Pandas and People” turned out to be a huge liability for the defense in the Kitzmiller case. The DI is now uttering the same kind of inane things about their new textbook, “Explore Evolution”.

Jack, if you have any further contact with these students, please suggest that they read Barbara Forrest’s paper, “Understanding the intelligent design creationist movement: Its true nature and goals,” available at http://www.centerforinquiry.net/adv[…]st_movement/

Other “must read” documents would include Judge Jones’ decison in the Dover trial (http://www.pamd.uscourts.gov/kitzmi[…]ller_342.pdf), emphasizing my two favorite quotes, “We have concluded that (intelligent design) is not [science], and moreover that (intelligent design) cannot uncouple itself from its creationist, and thus religious, antecedents.” and “It is ironic that several of these individuals, who so staunchly and proudly touted their religious convictions in public, would time and again lie to cover their tracks and disguise the real purpose behind the ID Policy.”

I’ve argued before that should the creos prevail in their attack on science, they will seriously harm the USA. The salient points.

1. The US spends over 50% of the world’s R&D money. With 5% of the world population.

2. The US is the world leader is science and technology. For examples, the computer age, internet age, biotechnology age, etc.. were all born and flourished here.

3. The US is in many ways, a significant force in the world. Last superpower, economic giant, and so on.

Points 1 and 2 lead to the the present situation point 3. What is our edge that keeps the US ahead? It isn’t natural resources, or population size, or climate. If one combines huge R&D expenditures with a free and entrepreneurial society, one ends up with material progress and wealth.

The Idist/creos are aiming right for the heart of our society based on a minority religious view. We don’t care what their religious views are, free country with all sorts of odd groups. They do seem to care about ours, they in fact, seek to impose their views on the rest of us.

The goal is to overthrow the US government, set up a theocracy, and head on back to the dark ages. They say so often, the Wedge documents and the Xian reconstructionist/dominionist movement it sprang from.

They may even succeed. Up till 2006 they controlled the congress, owned the president, and had a near majority of the supreme court.

For an example of what fundamentalist religion can do to a society, look at the hard core moslem countries. Many are stuck in the middle ages culturally and economically. The ones with oil trade it for money to buy western science, medicine, and technology. This means they will always be a step or two behind. They do very little science on their own. Many of their best and brightest get western educations and stay here and in western Europe.

The IDist/creo plans for the USA aren’t anything many or most people would want for their future.

Paul,

Even though Jack’s students should read those articles, they seem to have gotten the message already. The problem is with most everyone else, who don’t have the time or interest to read the basics, let alone the detailed articles. To them the words “creationist, and thus religious, antecedents” mean something very different than what is meant by long time critics of anti-evolution activism. Specifically, most people, including many that accept evolution, think that “creationism” means an honest, but harmless belief in fairy tales, and to most of them “religion” is a good thing. But in this context “creationism” is about deliberate misrepresentation of science, and “religion” means “radical fundamentalism” (or “reconstructionism”), not mainstream religion. They need to know that “creationism” is first and foremost classic pseudoscience, whereby differences in opinion (e.g. on the age of the earth) are covered up, not challenged and tested. They need to know that most major religions reject it. Sadly, that too is still a well-kept secret. The scammers even seem to be getting away with the outrageous lie that religious leaders are “bullied” into accepting evolution.

There is a superfluous close parenthesis at the end of the url for the Jones decision: here is the correct one.

I strongly agree with this post.

BUT - it still gives ID/creationists a too much credit. Far, far too much credit.

The Wedge Document tries to create a false dichotomy about ethics, or as they prefer, “morals”. To the naive, reading the document, it would seem as if the authors were concerned with morals, while the opponents they describe are brutal nihilists.

Anyone can see that this is false. It is false on both counts. Obviously people who accept modern science are often very moral, and usually very strongly oppose such things as theft, unjustified violence, discrimination, dishonesty, etc.

Meanwhile, right wing ID/creationist types actually seem to seek, for the most part, a brutal, authoritarian “Christian Taliban” type of regime.

“Morality” for them is merely a rigid, arbitrary set of rules about sexuality, gleaned from a strained reading of translations of ancient Jewish texts, yet not endorsed by many rabbinical scholars, which they themselves, at least anecdotally, seem to ignore, and which would primarily serve the function of allowing a hypothetical authoritarian government to justify sadistic violence against women and gays.

There is a “moral” side here, and it is the honest side, the rights-respecting side, the rational side, it is the pro-science side.

I think it is long past time to stop giving the creationists and their ilk the “they’re only trying to be moral” excuse. I see no adherence to Christian ethics by them, or any other coherent system of ethics. What I see is a group of people who will say anything, anything at all, including making many false statements about the morality of their opponents, to advance an agenda. I see, in short, that there does indeed seem to be one side in this conflict* which is nihilistic, cynical, and power-obsessed, and that side is the ID/creationist side.

*As always, I refer only to those who advance pseudoscience to justify poor public policy, or who lie to the public about real science. I have no problem with people who simply choose to believe privately in scientifically incorrect ideas, as is their perfect right.

I absolutely agree. If you want to know what creationists are guilty of, just look at what they accuse others of. They are the most hypocritical people I have ever encountered.

They accuse others of wanting an excuse to behave immorally while at the same time using their religious agenda as an excuse to lie for Jesus. Just look at what happened in the Dover trial for example. They accuse others of holding beliefs without sufficient evidence while ignoring all of the evidence and making claims that can never be supported by any evidence. And worse of all, they seek to overthrow the very constitution that gives them the freedom to hold the view that they are right and everyone else is wrong. Talk about hypocritical!

Those who claim the moral high road should not lie in court. Those who demand evidence should go out and do some research of their own. Those who don’t want others to have the protection of the constitution should move to another country to set up a theocracy. Gee, I wonder how that will work out for them?

Three HOURS? Are students even awake that long?

A few looked a little tired at the end, but most were attentive and engaged hte whole time. We took 20 minute break in the middle.

Interesting how the words “science” and “naturalism” or “evolution” are used interchangeable once more, as if they are one and the same. One gets the feeling that Darwinists can’t understand (or don’t want to understand) that one can be against evolution without being against science.

A few gems from the article:

And most importantly, they didn’t know how much anti-evolutionism is tied to the creationist idea that evolution is an atheist belief that is responsible for all of societies shortcoming.

Actually, the belief that evolutionary philosophy is based on atheistic presuppositions is something we get from atheists themselves. Do we need to bring in the words of Julian Huxley, in 1959, or Dawkins’ own words to elucidate that?

I showed them one of the typical “tree of evil” pictures: evolution is the trunk being hacked down by the “creation science message,” and the branches of the tree are abortion, homosexuality, genocide, eugenics, radical feminism and a whole host of other evils.

I think that the message Creationists are trying to pass is this:

If you believe that you are the nothing more than the product of a totally natural process, you can justify whatever kind of behavior you want.

or

IF you believe that there are no moral absolutes, you can justify whatever kind of behavior you want.

And according to Creationists, this ties directly to origins, since our origins determine our morality. This is probably why the very first statement of belief in the humanist manifesto is about origins: “The world is self-existing”, etc, etc.

Humanists and Creationists realize that origins is fundamental to morality.

The only ones who seem to be floating in mid-air, not knowing where to go, are theistic naturalists/evolutionists/materialists..

They were shocked to here how large a percent of adults in the United States are YEC’s.

Yes, it’s truly amazing that after decades and decades of evolutionary indoctrination, almost half of the population in the most scientifically successful nation on the planet still doesn’t believe that living forms are the result of an impersonal, mindless, uncaused natural process.

Either evolutionists are really bad teachers, or the belief that the biosphere is the result of a mindless process is just too hard to swallow for Americans 8or both). You be the judge.

The students were quite interested to hear about Christians who accept science,

Considering that the “soul” of modern science is Christianity, this statement is hilarious.

http://www.amazon.com/Soul-Science-[…]p/0891077669

The fact that the IDists denounce theistic evolution helped make it clear to the students that the ID movement (including its fellow travelers under the big tent) are trying to impose a specific religious view under the guise of science

Hmmm.….”imposing”.…a specific religious view under the guise of science. That does ring a bell, doesn’t it?

and that the ID Wedge strategy claiming that science is fundamentally atheist is both wrong and unfair to millions of theistic supporters of science.

Obviously, ID scientists didn’t say that science is fundamentally atheist. What they might have said is that Darwinism is atheism masked as science.

I am, however, trying to distinguish for the students the views of the IDists from other Christians and all the other people who aren’t trying to wedge us into this God vs. science dichotomy.)

The Discovery Institute doesn’t make a “God vs science” dichotomy.

The IDists see modern science as the enemy.

That’s right. And that is why the Discovery Institute is filled with Ph.D scientists.

Well, that’s why - modern science sees human beings as merely biological machines with no free will and no inherent moral or spiritual nature.

Actually, modern science does no such thing. Naturalism/evolutionism/atheism does that. Anyway, there is no agreement among Darwinists if human have free will or not.

and we are increasingly seeing non-scientific encroachments upon psychology.

Like evolutionary psychology.

The views of the IDists are not consonant with the Christian and theistic convictions of millions of people, as I then went on to discuss.

The ID views (The view that some features in the universe are best explained as the result of intelligence, as opposed to undirected impersonal forces of nature) is in obvious agreement with the overwhelming majority of Christians, and theists in general. The opposing view (that the universe shows no evidence for a Designer) is in obvious agreement with the majority of atheists.

A good education should be unsettling, and I am sure all of them will have a broader and deeper perspective on human nature and our scientific attempts to understand it when they are done with their course.

A good way to promote free inquiry and true debate would be to invite someone from the DI to answer to the interpretation made of the Wedge Document, and for him to ask some questions to the Darwinian teacher about the ramifications of evolutionary philosophy.

But seeing that “free inquiry” is not something really promoted by Darwinists, we won’t hold our breath on that point. Students will go on being indoctrinated in favor of “a specific religious view under the guise of science” (Darwinism).

Mats wrote:

“One gets the feeling that Darwinists can’t understand (or don’t want to understand) that one can be against evolution without being against science.”

No, one can’t. If you subscribe to the validity of the scientific method then you are absolutely not free to simply disagree with the results when they conflict with your preconceived notions. That is indeed denying the very science that you claimed to believe in. In other words, if you believe the method is valid then you must accept the conclusions. If an hypothesis is cconvincingly falsified, you cannot simply go on believing in it and also claim to believe in science. That is just being a hypocrite and it will fool nobody.

“And according to Creationists, this ties directly to origins, since our origins determine our morality.”

So what? Claiming that this is true does not make it so. Humans are perfectly free to determine their own morality and their own moral systems regardless of their origins. What if it were conclusively demonstrated that life on earth originated from alien cockroach droppings left behind after an interstellar survey mission (i.e. the Kurt Vonnegut hypthesis)? Would that somehow absolve us of all moral responsiblity? Why? What possible difference would it make? And if God created humans, what possible difference could it make what processes she used?

“A good way to promote free inquiry and true debate would be to invite someone from the DI to answer to the interpretation made of the Wedge Document, and for him to ask some questions to the Darwinian teacher about the ramifications of evolutionary philosophy.”

By all means. I would love to have someone from the DI come here and explain the Wedge Document to us.

Alright Mats, I have asked before and I’m asking again. If you are so pro science, what is your hypothesis? Is it testable? Has it been tested? What is your evidence? Has it been published?

But seeing that free inquiry is not something really promoted by Darwinists, we won’t hold our breath on that point. Students will go on being indoctrinated in favor of a specific religious view under the guise of science (Darwinism).

Science specifically rules the supernatural out of bounds. It only uses empirically obtained and repeatable data to support it’s conclusions. A field with no supernatural component isn’t a religion, it is the opposite.

Speaking of morality, Mats just repeats the same lies over and over such as the one above. Rather than evolution leading to lack of morals, it is again the opposite. The only way to pretend that the square peg of 4,000 year old bronze age mythology fits in the round hole of reality is to.…lie, lie, lie, and lie some more. Bad religion, bad theology.

So Mats, how does it feel to believe in a religion based on lies that you have to defend with mountains of lies on a routine basis? Is is worth it? What sort of morality does this give rise to? We all know about the 10 commandments that creos have modified to the 8 commandments. How soon are you down to 6 or 4?

And there we were just talking about the immorality of religious fundamentalists who lie about science.

Don’t worry Mats, you’re not going to Hell for lying. The only Hell that exists is what people make for themselves or others here and now.

Ironically, the Wedge strategy made a mistake when it tried to pit itself against evolutionary biology. Evolution may not be the simplest phenomena to study, but that is precisely why it is probably the most active and verified theory we have, with new results streaming in at a high rate.

That they do so is partly a consequence of their ideology, but it is also partly another evidence of their ignorance.

Jack Krebs Wrote:

… Philip Johnson, in an article on the Wedge in Touchstone magazine, pointed out that within science, evolution is the most susceptible topic.

As for the Wedge, Johnson put in alot of effort to make his article ambiguous to fit with the big tent strategy. It is true that evolution was specifically mentioned and is the de facto main subject for IDC attacks. But Johnson refers to YEC belief when he discusses xian creationists.

His exact words on the strategy is:

Phillip Johnson, 'The Wedge' Wrote:

The metaphor of the Wedge portrays the modernist scientific and intellectual world, with its materialist assumptions, as a thick and seemingly impenetrable log. Such a log can be split wide open, however, if you can find a crack and pound the sharp edge of a wedge into it. There are a number of inviting cracks in modernism, but probably the most important one involves its creation story, and the huge gap between the materialist and empiricist definitions of science.

Johnson leaves the ambiguity open in his empiricist definition of science:

Phillip Johnson, 'The Wedge' Wrote:

Within science one cannot argue for supernatural creation (or anything else) on the basis of ancient traditions or mystical experiences, but one can present evidence that unintelligent material causes were not adequate to do the work of biological creation.

So YECers can read into this that attacking evolution is the same as attacking deep time and other stumble blocks for their version of creationism.

Johnson doesn’t know, or pretend to not know, much about science. But he does know a lot about weasel wording.

This is not just a very, very interesting posting, but also an excellent way of approaching the young generation. It strikes me as a clear case of one-upmanship re the claims of the IDeologues. Isn’t this the approach to take with respect to ID’s urge to ‘teach the controversy’. This is indeed teaching and as such it should effectively deal with the controversy.

‘Teaching the Wedge Document’ as described also looks like an excellent move. One aspect that should be introduced when bringing up the consequences of the Wedge policy for science is that science in this case ought to be understood broadly, so as to include disciplines such as history, linguistics and, specifically, biblical studies.

Whilst devastating bible critique dates back at least to Spinoza and others in the second half of the 17th century, the period of Radical Enlightenment, it has reached a critical stage in the second half of last century and now approach the end of its useful life. At least that is what Hector Avalos (of ‘Fighting Words’ fame) claims in his most recent study [Avalos, H. (2007). The end of biblical studies. Amherst, NY: Prometheus].

Consider, for a change, the Wedge being wedged between science on one side and the humanities on the other!

Mats:

Others have discussed your erroneous claims at some length. I can add this one to the heap of dung:

Mats Wrote:

Actually, the belief that evolutionary philosophy is based on atheistic presuppositions is something we get from atheists themselves. Do we need to bring in the words of Julian Huxley, in 1959, or Dawkins’ own words to elucidate that?

Yes, please provide references for once, from scientific sources. The following is unsourced:

1. That evolutionary biology is or has a philosophy, instead of being a science. 2. That the “soul” of modern science is religious and/or specifically christian. 3. That Julian Huxley or Richard Dawkins claims science is based on atheism.

You should also explain how your claim 2 fits claim 1, and claim 3 fits claim 2.

I don’t know what Huxley have written, but I know some of Dawkins. I suspect that you will bring a quote where Dawkins says roughly that ‘evolution makes it possible to be an intellectually fulfilled atheist’. That statement refers to himself.

Dawkins had an anglican upbringing, and went into and out of religion several times. Many who abandons childhood and/or religions have their hangups to deal with. As you can see from the linked text and the transcript it references, having the design argument replaced with actual knowledge meant a lot to Dawkins.

You will find atheists for which the design argument never meant anything for. You will certainly find that atheists in general don’t claim that science is based on atheism.

So Mats, I will ask you the same question as everyone else that have discussed with you. What is your evidence?

Mats:

I have found the quote for you:

Richard Dawkins, The Blind Watchmaker, p. 6 Wrote:

An atheist before Darwin could have said, following Hume: “I have no explanation for complex biological design. All I know is that God isn’t a good explanation, so we must wait and hope that somebody comes up with a better one.” I can’t help feeling that such a position, though logically sound, would have left one feeling pretty unsatisfied, and that although atheism might have been logically tenable before Darwin, Darwin made it possible to be an intellectually fulfilled atheist.

I still believe that Dawkins opinion is colored by his own experiences, as a logically sound position (and empirically, considering parsimony and expectations of a natural explanation) is enough. But if intellectual fulfillment is to know rather than to not know it is a correct argument.

Mats asserted:

Interesting how the words “science” and “naturalism” or “evolution” are used interchangeable once more, as if they are one and the same.

Nonsense. The naturalistic view is part of science (ie excluding the supernatural), and evolution is an example of science. Related, but not the same.

One gets the feeling that Darwinists can’t understand (or don’t want to understand) that one can be against evolution without being against science.

When those who oppose evolution start doing, you know, science, this empty claim will become more than a mere whine.

Actually, the belief that evolutionary philosophy is based on atheistic presuppositions is something we get from atheists themselves. Do we need to bring in the words of Julian Huxley, in 1959, or Dawkins’ own words to elucidate that?

What the hell is “evolutionary philosophy”? Evolution is a science, not a philosophy. And no, it is not based on atheistic presuppositions, which is why so many Christians like Ken Miller have no trouble believing both. Huxley and Dawkins are not divine prophets whose words can alter reality.

I think that the message Creationists are trying to pass is this:

If you believe that you are the nothing more than the product of a totally natural process, you can justify whatever kind of behavior you want.

or

IF you believe that there are no moral absolutes, you can justify whatever kind of behavior you want.

And what a moronic, reality averse message it is. On the one hand, it takes mere casual observation to verify that atheists do not justify whatever kind of behavior they want. On the other side of the coin, religions have no shortage of moral disputes, nor of justification of the most bizarre and damaging behavior imaginable (ie the 9/11 terrorists) so apparently if even there are such things as moral absolutes, the believers have no clue what they are.

For all their pompous pronouncements of superior moral derivation, religious moral systems seem no less concerned with practical results than any other system.

And according to Creationists, this ties directly to origins, since our origins determine our morality.

Well, bully for you. You could just as easily claim morality was tied directly to my birthplace. That doesn’t make my claim that it isn’t Chicago a religious statement.

Yes, it’s truly amazing that after decades and decades of evolutionary indoctrination, almost half of the population in the most scientifically successful nation on the planet still doesn’t believe that living forms are the result of an impersonal, mindless, uncaused natural process.

It is truly amazing, and a fact of which we should all be ashamed. But once one notes that this is also one of the most religious nations on earth, where millions of people are lied to every Sunday about evolution and atheism (lies Mats is kind enough to repeat), it seems pretty expected.

It is also comical to describe what goes on in US education as an indocrination in evolutionary theory, since most people get little to no instruction in that area, given the efforts of people like Mats to water-down or eliminate it from the curriculum.

Either evolutionists are really bad teachers, or the belief that the biosphere is the result of a mindless process is just too hard to swallow for Americans 8or both). You be the judge.

Complicated subjects that run counter to folk teachings are often hard for people ignorant of the subject to swallow. Quantum theory is even more hard for Americans to swallow. That doesn’t make it any less true. It is very telling that the more the audience understands about biology, the less persuasive they find anti-evolutionary arguments. It is even more telling that in the arenas where lying is most difficult, and the demands for sound arguments and supporting data (the courts, and scientific journals), the anti-evolutionists lose most consistently. This is true even when the judge tends to be sympathetic to their political and theological position (ie Judge Jones).

Obviously, ID scientists didn’t say that science is fundamentally atheist. What they might have said is that Darwinism is atheism masked as science.

They might have. They would have been very very wrong. For example, say ID was proven correct and it turned out that we were designed by a superior alien race. That would have zero effect on my atheism.

…the Discovery Institute is filled with Ph.D scientists.

Any poll of PhD scientists in the relevant fields comes down against the Discovery Institute 100+ to 1. That doesn’t make it wrong of course, but it does destroy the credibility of any kind of authoritarian argument for ID.

A good way to promote free inquiry and true debate would be to invite someone from the DI to answer to the interpretation made of the Wedge Document, and for him to ask some questions to the Darwinian teacher about the ramifications of evolutionary philosophy.

They had their chance in Dover before a conservative constructionist Bush-appointed judge. He found their arguments just as unpersuasive as the scientific community has.

But by all means, have them write publicly what the WD is all about. Come explain what the hell “evolutionary philosophy” is. Unlike prominent ID blogs, you can come on here and promote any argument you like.

We’re waiting…

But seeing that “free inquiry” is not something really promoted by Darwinists, we won’t hold our breath on that point. Students will go on being indoctrinated in favor of “a specific religious view under the guise of science” (Darwinism).

Students are, or should be, taught evolutionary theory because it is far and away the best science has. Free uinquiry does not mean repetitive endless inquiry. To the extent ID is denied audiences, it is because they simply have nothing new to offer. It is the same old creationist shit decorated with a lot of sciency-sounding phrases and poor math (as Mats is more than eager to demonstrate). It’s all been refuted over and over again, so it is difficult to explain why any more effort should be wasted on it.

Go do some, you know, science, get some real results, publish in the journals, and scientists will pay attention. Spend all your time in school board meetings, while whining and ranting nonsensically on blogs, and you’ll be rightly dismissed as the cranks you are.

Mats getting it wrong once again:

One gets the feeling that Darwinists can’t understand (or don’t want to understand) that one can be against evolution without being against science.

Actually not as others have explained. It is not just biology that contradicts the few pages of 4,000 year old bronze age mythology. It is astronomy, physics, geology, and paleontology. Most of science.

The creos just decided to start with evolution because biology is most relevant to us, human mammals, and evolution is slightly harder for the average nonscientist to understand.

Biologists would be delighted if the creos would start attacking astronomers who have shown that the universe started with a Big Bang 13.7 billion years ago, the earth is 4 billion years old, and our solar system is one among countless. Let them get the death threats and lose their jobs and have to explain a zillion times that no the sun does not circle the earth, no matter what the bible says.

Remarkably enough, while the various sciences all find the mythology to be well, mythology, they are from an independent development in close agreement with each other. Darwin had several problems. One was coming up with a theory of heredity that would explain evolution. (His was wrong). The other was timescales. His theory depended on having lots of time and it was thought that the earth and universe were old but not old enough. Mendel the Austrian monk fixed one problem. Nuclear physicists, cosmology, and astronomy fixed the other. The sun runs on nuclear fusion, is older by orders of magnitude than once thought, and will burn out but not soon enough to worry about.

Let us not forget the painfully obvious fact that neither Intelligent Design proponents nor other Creationists are incapable or even motivated to attempt to explain the myriad phenomena explained by Biology.

That’s right. And that is why the Discovery Institute is filled with Ph.D scientists.

Now that’s a funny argument… Of course, it’s what these scientists do that matters. Few have published in their areas of expertise, showing how ID is for many a scientific dead-end.

The ID views (The view that some features in the universe are best explained as the result of intelligence, as opposed to undirected impersonal forces of nature) is in obvious agreement with the overwhelming majority of Christians, and theists in general. The opposing view (that the universe shows no evidence for a Designer) is in obvious agreement with the majority of atheists.

Interestingly enough, that is not really what ID is all about. First it does not deal in explanations, it certainly fails to provide any. All ID can do is show that given our present understanding particular issues cannot yet be explained by science. ID then proposes that this ignorance should be called ‘design’ and that ‘design requires a designer’. However, on closer scrutiny one can clearly see the equivocations involved here.

Despite ID’s religious foundations being compatible with the Christian viewpoint, many Christians reject ID for being without merit and in fact theologically dangerous.

But seeing that “free inquiry” is not something really promoted by Darwinists, we won’t hold our breath on that point. Students will go on being indoctrinated in favor of “a specific religious view under the guise of science” (Darwinism).

You are now repeating known falsehoods. And I do not use that term often. First of all, unlike ID sites, we do not remove people’s postings just because we disagree with them, secondly Darwinism is and cannot be a religious view since it can be reconciled with both atheism and christianity.

Your ignorance once again is in violation of St Augustine. That you repeat your accusations even though the truth has been pointed out to you is why I use the term ‘repeated falsehoods’. The mere fact that you have been able to post freely here, and ignore much of what people have been saying, shows that your complaints are without merit, and actually false.

Remember, that ignorance is no excuse for repeated violations of St Augustine’s warnings. It only makes things worse.

Julian Huxley the biologist, MATS, or Aldous Huxley the novelist? They are not the same person.

I can’t count the number of times a Creationist has made that error. I can count the number of Creationists who have admitted not checking first, by looking at how many thumbs I have on my left foot.

fusilier James 2:24

Mat lying again:

The ID views (The view that some features in the universe are best explained as the result of intelligence, as opposed to undirected impersonal forces of nature) is in obvious agreement with the overwhelming majority of Christians, and theists in general. The opposing view (that the universe shows no evidence for a Designer) is in obvious agreement with the majority of atheists.

The fact is, the overwhelming majority of Xians are fine with science. Half the world’s Xians are Catholic and the Catholic church just recently again came out for evolution and reality. As Pope Pious said, “One Galileo in 2,000 years is enough.”

Most mainstream protestants, ditto. Even the Mormons are officially in nonopposition.

So the creos reduce down to a few cults in the south central USA. Who oppose reality on a narrow reading of a millenia old document that most Xians do not share.

Those Xians who can look reality in the eye, subscribe to one or another versions of theistic evolution. Virtually no one in science has a problem with that. I may even share that viewpoint. One feature that no one has explained yet, is why there is even a universe.

“The ID views (The view that some features in the universe are best explained as the result of intelligence, as opposed to undirected impersonal forces of nature)”

One minor problem with ID. In 150 years, ID hasn’t explained anything. So OK, what is the evidence that some features of the universe are best explained by intelligence? Evidence, data not rhetoric and wishful thinking.

And according to Creationists, this ties directly to origins, since our origins determine our morality.

How did that work out for Adam and Eve? Like, how long did they last in their superior newly minted sinless state? A week?

And according to Creationists, this ties directly to origins, since our origins determine our morality.

How did that work out for Adam and Eve? Like, how long did they last in their superior newly minted sinless state? A week?

Or that all carnivores, scavengers, detritivores, Death, Disease and Entropy all owe their inceptions due to Adam and Eve’s inherent sinfulness and incompetence?

One feature that no one has explained yet, is why there is even a universe.

Science is in the business to explain “what” and “how”, only if we are lucky the later explains “why”.

The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy gives the correct answer: “Well, why not?”. Both the questions “why is it” and “why is it not” are equally informative here.

But FWIW Sean Carroll gives an answer as a cosmologist:

Sean Carroll Wrote:

I can’t do justice to Grünbaum’s takedown of this position, which was quite careful and well-informed. But the basic idea is straightforward enough. When we talk about things being “natural” or “spontaneous,” we do so on the basis of our experience in this world. This experience equips us with a certain notion of natural — theories are naturally if they are simple and not finely-tuned, configurations are natural if they aren’t inexplicably low-entropy.

But our experience with the world in which we actually live tells us nothing whatsoever about whether certain possible universes are “natural” or not. In particular, nothing in science, logic, or philosophy provides any evidence for the claim that simple universes are “preferred” (whatever that could possibly mean). We only have experience with one universe; there is no ensemble from which it is chosen, on which we could define a measure to quantify degrees of probability. [Bold added.]

Sean Carroll Wrote:

Ultimately, the problem is that the question — “Why is there something rather than nothing?” — doesn’t make any sense. What kind of answer could possibly count as satisfying? What could a claim like “The most natural universe is one that doesn’t exist” possibly mean? [Bold added.]

Which, as Carroll notes, is a more informed way of stating what the SEP already have described.

I would just like to point out, for the record, that I am only posting under the name “David Stanton”. The posts from “Stanton” are not being made by me. Not that I necessarily disagree with any of the comments made under that name, I just want to set the record straight.

Mats wrote:

“Logically speaking, you can’t be a CHristian and believe that the world and all its life forms are the result of a mindless, natural, impersonal force.”

Logically speaking, you can’t make that statement. For example, you can believe that all kinds of things, such as hurricanes, tornados, lightning strikes, earthquakes, etc. are the all result of mindless, natural, impersonal forces and still be a Christian. In fact the Bible is quite specific about the requirements for salvation and choosing to believe that God is personally behind every natural event that ever occurs is definately not part of the criteria. There is only one thing a real Christian has to believe, and it doesn’t have anything to do with evolution. Maybe this guy should spend more time reading the Bible. Besides, if your religion does conflict with reality, maybe it’s time for a new religion.

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This page contains a single entry by Jack Krebs published on September 30, 2007 12:18 AM.

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